In the dead of night, the young whale shark was feeding close to the surface. The challenge for Tom was to capture an image of it. The whale sharks in this area of the Gulf of Tadjoura, Djibouti, eastern Africa, feed at night on zooplankton attracted to the lights of small fishing boats. These lights were too dim to allow Tom to photograph without a flash, but a flash would have disturbed the shark. So from his boat, he hung an additional light just above the water. ‘The cone of light was just large enough to illuminate the small whale shark emerging from the gloom,’ he says. ‘The shark was about two and a half metres long, but if it had been an adult, it would have been at least four times longer, and I would have only been able to get part of the animal illuminated in the frame.’ This location is the only known one where juveniles gather and the only one where whale sharks are regularly documented feeding at night.
Nikon D3 + 16mm lens; 1/50 sec at f5; ISO 800; Subal housing; movie light above water.
Gulf of Tadjoura, Republic of Djibouti
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.